Gossage voted into baseball Hall; Rice just misses

Updated: January 8, 2008, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- On his first day as a Hall of Famer, Goose Gossage tossed some high, hard ones at Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

"I think that if you did do performance-enhancing drugs, you need to come clean and put an end to this," Gossage said. "Just fess up."

After falling short eight times, Gossage received 85.8 percent of the vote Tuesday, easily surpassing the 75 percent threshold for baseball's highest honor and becoming just the fifth reliever in Cooperstown's bullpen.

Angry that the Steroids Era has skewed statistics, Gossage said Bonds and Clemens were in the same situation as far as he was concerned. Both have been accused of using steroids.

"Now we've got to figure out who's telling the truth, and I think that some day we will know the truth," Gossage said.

Gossage said players shouldn't be afraid of admitting they used performance-enhancing drugs. He cited Clemens' close friend, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

"Pettitte came clean. There's been other guys that said they did it," Gossage said. "Life is going to go on."

Hall of Fame Voting

Rich "Goose" Gossage was the only player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the 2008 ballot. Jim Rice, who has just one year remaining on the ballot, finished just 16 votes short of induction. Players remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years as long as they receive 5 percent of the vote.

Player Votes Pct.
Goose Gossage 466 85.8
Jim Rice 392 72.2
Andre Dawson 358 65.9
Bert Blyleven 336 61.9
Lee Smith 235 43.3
Jack Morris 233 42.9
Tommy John 158 29.1
Tim Raines 132 24.3
Mark McGwire 128 23.6
Alan Trammell 99 18.2
Dave Concepcion 88 16.2
Don Mattingly 86 15.8
Dave Parker 82 15.1
Dale Murphy 75 13.8
Harold Baines 28 5.2
Others receiving votes: Rod Beck 2, Travis Fryman 2, Robb Nen 2, Shawon Dunston 1, Chuck Finley 1, David Justice 1, Chuck Knoblauch 1, Todd Stottlemyre 1.

Mark McGwire, his image in shreds since telling Congress in 2005 that he wouldn't talk about the past, received 128 votes from 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- matching the total from last year, when he was eligible for the first time. His percentage was 23.6 percent.

"I don't think this steroid thing is over by any means. I'm sure that most of you guys, the writers, don't really know how to approach this," Gossage during a BBWAA conference call.

Known for his overpowering fastball, fiery temperament and bushy mustache, the Goose received 466 of 543 votes.

"It was very emotional I'll tell you, off the charts. I can't describe the feeling," he said after learning the news. "I can't lie. There's been some frustration and some disappointment."

Jim Rice was passed over yet again in his next-to-last year on the ballot, getting 392 votes (72.2 percent), up from 346 (63.5 percent) last year but 16 short of the 75 percent needed.

"Today's results are obviously a disappointment," Rice said in a statement. "I believe my accomplishments speak for themselves, and a majority of the voters seem to agree. It is tough to come this close, but I remain hopeful for the 2009 results."

Gossage, who fell short by 21 votes last year, was on just 33.3 percent of the ballots when he appeared for the first time in 2000. He joins Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004) and Bruce Sutter (2006) as the only relievers in the Hall.

Gossage was sitting in a recliner in his living room overlooking the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colo., when he received the call. He turned to reporters in the room and said, "Oh my God, I've been elected."

"A shock wave went through my body like an anvil just fell on my head," Gossage said. "I think having to wait makes it that much more special."

His mother died in 2006, Gossage said with tears welling up in his eyes, and he had hoped she would live long enough to see him inducted.

Bullpen Call

As Goose Gossage joins the Baseball Hall of Fame, Rob Neyer says he should be the last relief pitcher of his generation to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Blog Insider

Gossage was a nine-time All-Star who pitched for nine major league teams from 1972-94 and had 310 saves -- 52 of them when he got seven outs or more. By comparison, Mariano Rivera has one and Trevor Hoffman two.

"It was go as hard as I could for as long as I could, and the jams that I came into were always so exciting," Gossage said. "I felt the more difficult the situation, the better I was."

He spent six seasons with the New York Yankees and is likely to go into the Hall wearing a Yankees cap. He won his only World Series title with them in 1978.

"The biggest game that I ever pitched in on any team by far was that '78 playoff game with the Red Sox," he said. "It seemed like the playoffs after that and the World Series were kind of anticlimactic because of the pressure that was in that one-game playoff."

Rice, who flied out with runners on against Gossage in the eighth and ninth innings of that game, will appear on the writers' ballot for the 15th and final time next year, when career steals leader Rickey Henderson will be among the newcomers. The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

The last player elected in his final year on the BBWAA ballot was Ralph Kiner in 1975.

"I think Jim Rice does belong in the Hall of Fame," Gossage said. "No hitter scared me, but Jim Rice came the closest."

Andre Dawson was third with 358 votes (65.9 percent), followed by Bert Blyleven at 336 (61.9 percent), Lee Smith at 235 (43.3 percent) and Jack Morris at 233 (42.9 percent).

"We as players that are on the bubble can have opinions, and it does really no good to vent or get angry because it's out of our hands," said Blyleven, whose percentage rose from 47.7 last year. "I know Goose vented a little bit last year, and Jim Rice will probably vent this year. I have four more years. For some reason they make some of these guys like Gossage and Bruce Sutter wait. Like Goose said, he's not going to save any more games."

Tim Raines topped the 11 newcomers on the ballot, receiving 132 votes (24.3 percent). All the others appearing for the first time fell below the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot next year.

Gossage will be inducted July 27 in Cooperstown, joined by five men elected last month by the revamped Veterans Committee: former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss.

Williams managed Gossage on the San Diego Padres, helping them win the 1984 NL pennant.

"There isn't anybody I'd rather go in with than Dick Williams," said Gossage, who spoke with his former manager right after getting the news.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE